CARTHAGE – The Moore County Board of Education met Monday, with the main agenda items being the recommended and planned capital projects.
The first action item the board took was the review of changes to certain policies.
The main change discussed was a revision to policy 13-10, which states that the Board may transact business only at official meetings of the board.
Per the language of the policy, “an official meeting of the Board includes any meeting, assembly, or gathering together at any time or place or the simultaneous communication by conference telephone or other electronic means of a majority of the members of a public body for the purpose of conducting hearings, participating in deliberations or voting upon or otherwise transacting the public business of the public body.”
Board member Robert Levy made a recommendation to add in asynchronous communications, including but not limited to emails, as a form of official meeting so as to remove any potential loophole that may have arisen from the lack of reference to those forms of communication.
“One of the reasons I am proposing this is that we’ve had some questions about the open meetings law,” Levy said. “And the spirit of the open meetings law, in my opinion, is that you can’t get a majority of people together to make decisions or deliberate or do any business whatsoever. Because when you do that, you are essentially cutting out the remainder of the people on your board. When that happens, you’re cutting out entire constituencies.”
“Personally, I don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow, nor is that a proper discussion for us, but we know that we’ve had a situation on this board where we’ve had a lot of 4-3 votes. That may change tomorrow, or it may not, I don’t know, but I think it is important that we work cohesively as a board and that we do not allow ourselves to get into that idea where a group of four could get together and then make decisions and therefore cut the rest of the people out. That’s not what the people wanted, and that’s not the spirit of the open meetings law.”
The only other significant policy change that the board approved was a change to the required number of board members necessary to call for a special meeting from four to two.
The board also approved the bid proposal from Benyon for the track replacement projects at North Moore High School and Pinecrest High School for the amount of $2,721,535.
“This bid includes, within it, three alternate projects that would be done if contingency money is still available at the end of the project,” said Interim Executive Officer for Operations Cory Satterfield.
The alternate projects include a pole vault area for North Moore High School and a Shot Put area and run out for Pinecrest High School.
However, there was some dissent from the majority with regards to the spending.
“I’m not going to vote for this because, as much as I’m a big supporter of our extra-curricular activities for many reasons like character development, leadership, and all that, I’m not going to vote to spend almost $3,000,000 on tracks when we have elementary and middle school students in trailers,” said board member David Hensley.
The motion passed 6-1.
The board then approved the submission of requests of bids for various capital projects targeted by Superintendent Dr. Tim Locklair.
The recommended projects were the replacement of the HVAC system at the central office for $221,000, the replacement of the split systems units with new split system heat pump units, and the cleaning or replacement of the ductwork at Sandhills Farm Life Elementary for $425,000, the replacement of the split systems and air handlers in the gym, cafeteria, and Building Three as well as the cleaning or replacement of the ductwork at West End Elementary for $638,500, the repair or replacement of pavers in the courtyard of Pinecrest High School for $397,000, the replacement of the hot water boiler at New Century Middle for $56,000, and the replacement of all HVAC, electrical, lighting, ceiling, floors, partitions and windows and the abatement of asbestos floor tiles and mastic at the exceptional children’s building at Cameron Elementary for $543,000.
There was also dissent with the Superintendent’s recommendations among the board as well.
“I’m concerned about spending nearly $400,000 to replace pavers,” Hensley said. “Pavers in the courtyard, when one of the actions we talked about just three weeks ago in the facilities committee was a complete renovation of Pinecrest that we know is coming, and one of those courses of action is to completely enclose the courtyard, and therefore we may be ripping up our $400,000 worth of pavers.”
Despite the protest from Hensley, Levy, and board member Philip Holmes, the motion passed 4-3.
“These are just bids, so we can actually deny the bids when they come in,” said board member Stacey Caldwell on why she voted for the recommendations. “This is just having an acceptance of saying, ‘Let’s throw this bid out here and see what we get,’ and then we can say, ‘Yes,’ or ‘No,’ to it.”
Finally, the board approved the Master Facility Planning Process list as the board’s priority for capital projects.
The Master Facility Planning Process list included the capital projects which the board felt had the highest priorities that needed to be addressed.
These included increasing the capacity and modernizing of Pinecrest and Union Pines High Schools, the completion of North Moore High School’s modernization, the modernization or replacement of Carthage Elementary School, West End Elementary, and Sandhills Farm Life Elementary, the modernization and expansion of Cameron Elementary School and Crain’s Creek Middle School to align with their core capacities, and the construction of a new middle school in Area I.
The next step for the master plan will be for it to go back to the facilities committee, where the costs, priority order, and final draft will be worked on to be brought back before the board.
This was also the last board meeting for former chairman and current vice-chair Libby Carter and board member Ed Dennison.
“I am wearing red for education tonight, and I will continue to do so and remain an enthusiastic supporter of our Moore County Schools and our traditional educational system throughout North Carolina,” Carter said through tears.
Dennison exited the meeting early and did not give any final remarks.
The Moore County Board of Education will next meet December 12.